In many ways Dakota Hanson (above) is a typical Young Millennial: he's an avid Tik Tok fan, spends his spare time playing Call of Duty, and has a job working with cutting-edge technology. However, unlike many members of his generation, Dakota's workplace is more than a laptop and a WIFI connection. As an Engineering Technician at Eagle Alloy (a shell molding facility in Muskegon, MI) Hanson specializes in programming robotic cells that play an integral role in the manufacturing process.
In fact, Eagle Alloy has a growing number of employees whose job descriptions include programming and operating robotic cells. Through a continuing education program led by robotics manufacturer ABB, Eagle Alloy has been able to provide its in-house team with manufacturing robotics expertise, further improving the company’s response time and resilience.
The rise of CAD/CAM software largely defines the current era of manufacturing. While blueprints and dimensional charts are still widely used as reference guides, modern manufacturers rely on software to design prototypes and simulate casting processes. One of the first steps in the cast part development process is to create a 3D model. From there, engineers can improve the part shape, simulate a variety of casting processes and materials, and troubleshoot difficult manufacturing scenarios.
When done right, CAD/CAM software enables foundries to solve all the problems of casting in the virtual world, before pouring any metal. The results are cost savings for the customer, time savings for everyone, and reduction of overall waste.
Product development processes vary widely from foundry to foundry. The Eagle Group's Product Development blog series aims to highlight practices used by leading foundries that prioritize quality in every part they produce.
One product development practice that sets Eagle Alloy apart from other shell molding foundries is their use of a handheld laser scanner for inspection and dimensional reporting. This technology greatly improves the accuracy of dimensional reports, and makes it easier for customers to verify that new parts meet their requirements.